Wednesday of week 1 of Advent – First Reading

Commentary on Isa 25:6-10
Both readings are about the abundance that comes from God. The theme of an eschatological banquet is common in early Jewish and early Christian literature. See Matthew 8:11-12, where Jesus, after healing the centurion’s servant says that "many will come from east and west and will eat with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven…", and again in Matt 22:1-14 (and Luke 14:16-24), where Jesus tells the parable of the banquet to which those invited made excuses not to come.
As in the Gospel parables, there is a universal tone to the words: "The Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food…" It is not just for God’s people. People from all nations will pour in to join this immense banquet with the Lord. God calls every single person to experience his love and share his eternal presence.
It is not surprising that this image should be used as a vision of the future life. It was used by peoples who all too often experienced hunger and thirst brought on by drought, floods and poverty. A future life beyond death was easily conceived as an unending banquet at a table groaning with rich food and the finest drinks, things which in this life only the tiny minority of the rich could enjoy.
Today’s Gospel about the feeding of the 5,000 in the desert confirms what the prophet is foretelling.
At the same time, the Lord will put an end to death symbolised by the shroud that envelopes the peoples and the sheet covering the nations. In fact, "he will swallow up death forever", a phrase quoted by Paul in 1 Cor 15:54.
He will "wipe away the tears from all faces". Later, in the Book of Revelation we read in the hymn to those who have sacrificed their lives for the Gospel that "God will wipe away every tear from their eyes" (Rev 7:17) and again in Rev 21:4 "he will wipe every tear from their eyes, death will be no more". In the Third Eucharistic Prayer, when we pray for the dead, we also say: "There we hope to share in your glory when every tear will be wiped away."
"For the hand of the Lord will rest on this mountain", that is, Mount Zion on which the Temple of Jerusalem was built.
With the coming of God (remember we are in Advent and Jesus is on the way) there comes comfort in all our sorrows. Every tear will be wiped away. This is what salvation means – the fulfilling of all our needs: spiritual, emotional, social and physical.
What is promised in Isaiah will become a reality in Jesus.
In our world today there is an abundance. Food production outpaces population growth. No one need go hungry. If there is hunger, malnutrition and other unmet needs, it is because we, God’s stewards, are failing in our task of distribution. If there is hunger and suffering and death in many parts of the world, it is certainly not the work of God.
It is ours.

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